Embracing change: Sartaj Aziz calls for adapting to technological upheaval

Published: December 6, 2018
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Sartaj Aziz. PHOTO: Reuters

Sartaj Aziz. PHOTO: Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a win-win arrangement for both Pakistan and China and all the projects under CPEC must materialise without further delay, said former Planning Commission deputy chairman Sartaj Aziz. He said it would lead to industrialisation in the country.

Addressing an event organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Aziz said that CPEC is not only a package of road and energy projects but also a tool of connectivity among think tanks, public and private sector, common people and ideas.

“The real challenge of the 21st century is artificial intelligence and technological upheaval, which took over the physical existence of labour force,” he added.

He maintained that technology is set to transform the job market and the real challenge is “how we are preparing ourselves to face this challenge”. He stressed the need to build a knowledge corridor under CPEC that would help Pakistan bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and technology.

He underlined the importance of water as a vital part of climate change and stated that what the country needs is to go beyond building dams and work on water security, water course lining, drip irrigation and water management.

Also speaking on the occasion, Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif said that it is important to reflect why South Asia is lagging behind in capitalising on its true potential of trade, connectivity, and investments. “The opportune time will not come by itself, we have to create and strive for the right time to move.”

In a separate session on ‘Connecting for Trade and Development: Issues and Prospects of Land Transport, Corridors of South Asia’, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad invited India and Russia to join CPEC, saying Gwadar Port is going to transform the face of Asia.

“We are currently working on ML-1 and ML-2. We want to work with every nation to improve our economy,” he said, adding that with the available financial resources, railways is committed to open more feasible and productive ways for trade and transportation.

Speaking at a concurrent session titled ‘Fiscal Policies in South Asia: Why is Revenue Mobilisation so Challenging’, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar stressed that the government is committed to taking right decisions, which also include hard decisions. “An honest and transparent approach is what we need right now to come out of this financial urgency.” He said the government will simplify tax laws and make efforts in regulating tax collection in the provinces.

Other speakers highlighted hurdles in south Asia trade and the need to eliminate distrust between regional countries. 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2018.

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